Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Is Hitting More By Thinking Less

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Guillermo Martínez had been pondering it for some time, so a few month in the past he simply got here out and stated it: Man, you’re method too good for this! Cease pondering a lot. Simply begin desirous about hitting the ball laborious.

That alone in all probability didn’t flip round Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s season. However it appears to have helped.

Maybe essentially the most exceptional component of the Blue Jays’ playoff push this 12 months is that they’ve largely made it with out their most gifted participant. Two years in the past, at 22, Guerrero completed second in American League Most Invaluable Participant Award voting by slugging .601 with a 1.002 OPS, and he confirmed flashes of that participant final 12 months. However over his first 120 video games this season, he was slugging .432, the worst mark of his profession. Since then, that determine is .496; since Sept. 14, it’s .677. It’s come on the proper time for his workforce: During the last two weeks, Toronto has gone 7–4 to climb from a sport out of the playoffs to tied with the Astros, a sport and a half up on the Mariners, for the final two wild card slots.

“When his timing is healthier, he swings at higher pitches,” says supervisor John Schneider. “He is bought type of so much happening with the toe faucet and all the pieces, and when he is in sync, he simply sees the ball higher. After which when he sees the ball, he is gonna do harm.”

By a workforce spokesman, Guerrero, 24, declined to make himself obtainable for an interview, however Martínez, the hitting coach, and Schneider say they’ve seen their slugger start to calm down within the final month.

“I’d slightly him be like that and be nonchalant about it, as a result of that’s the way you succeed, versus ‘I do know I want to do that, I do know I want to do this,’ creating nervousness,” Martínez says. “This sport feeds on nervousness. So he’s in mindset proper now. He’s gonna be good. He’s gonna end robust, and he’s gonna come again 12 months in higher form, all the pieces.”

Martínez added that he didn’t consider Guerrero was unprepared to start the season; certainly, he slugged .528 by way of the primary six weeks. However on the time, Martínez believed the manufacturing was empty, extra an element of luck than of course of. “It wasn’t like 2021,” Martínez says. “It wasn’t him. After which little by little, it began catching up with him.”

And when the autumn got here, it was precipitous. From mid-Could to mid-August—a span of 81 video games, or half a season—Guerrero hit .239 with 11 residence runs and a .390 slugging share. His .706 OPS in that stretch would have ranked him No. 109 of the 128 certified hitters this season.

They watched video and realized Guerrero had been dropping his fingers earlier than his swing. He might really feel the issue however couldn’t appear to unravel it; he couldn’t get comfy together with his fingers within the excessive place that often produces a lot success.

All season, they’ve been doing drills to regulate Guerrero’s hand peak. Martínez, grinning, declines to be too particular however acknowledges that they deal with the interior half of the plate. “If it’s simple for him, we’re in place, as a result of it’s not speculated to be simple,” he says.

After which, a couple of weeks in the past, Guerrero seemed adequate that Martínez determined to drop the mechanical dialogue solely and remind him to focus simply on hitting the ball laborious.

“He’s working laborious,” Martínez says. “He can not work that onerous after which return on the market and be desirous about all these different issues.”

The remainder of the world noticed the change when Guerrero began wanting like himself once more on the plate, when that current slugging share began outpacing his midseason OPS. However Martínez knew earlier, when he heard his protege start saying, “No matter occurs occurs. I’m simply going to work laborious and go play.”

All Guerrero wants to consider is making contact, Schneider explains. “The house runs are only a byproduct of how robust he’s,” he says. “I’ve at all times stated he is hitter earlier than a house run hitter. So it simply comes right down to swinging on the proper pitch. It is gonna go so far as anyone so long as he does that.”

Typically it’s that easy.

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